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Amidst the people walking past him, he continued his steps. The strange thing was he couldn't tell whether his feet was even on the floor or not. He could feel nothing. He couldn't hear anything. He couldn't see ahead of him. Because that news, that one heavy blow had just written a huge period in his life.
"Cancer?" he whispered under his breath. "Terminal?"
In his voice was the hint of laughter. Like he was stating the dumbest thing he ever heard. It tasted bitter in his mouth, the kind that couldn't be removed with just one wash.
"It shocked me that the tests resulted into this...anyhow Usami-san, it's best for you to get a second opinion. If you want, I could refer you to a specialist and-"
That moment just a few minutes ago, Usami still had that couldn't-be-bothered face. After all, it felt like that result wasn't his. It didn't belong to him. He came for a general check-up after experiencing pains in the neck, and then cancer? Ridiculous. It was just a one huge joke too lame to even make him crack a smile.
Ahead of him was a little girl running towards his direction. She had lollipop in one hand while grinning a toothless grin. She must have had her tooth taken at the dental section of the hospital. Usami thought how stupid it was to give a candy to a girl who got a decayed tooth removed.
The girl looked funny. The mother running after her daughter looked funny. The bystanders looked funny. Everything looked damned funny.
"Mama!" the girl shouted. "Hurry! Hurry!"
And then she fell on her face. Her lollipop rolling before Usami's feet. But the man just looked at the red wrapper of the lollipop contrasting the white tiled floor.
As the girl's wails filled the hallway, the man just kept his eyes at the lollipop. It was round. The same as the number zero. One of the numbers that made up the remaining time he had.
"Based on the results...it's more or less 10 months..."
The mother came rushing to her daughter helping her up. And after all the fuss she had to do to make her stop crying, she gazed up at the tall, silverhaired man standing looking down at the candy. She was even expecting the man that he would pick it up and give it to her daughter. Besides, the man looked decent and gentlemanly enough.
But as seconds turned to minutes, she felt awkward. Usami's eyes that were as blank as a paper suddenly changed color.
"Uhm..." the lady slowly reached for the candy and hurriedly stood. "Excuse me."
And like what a mother should do, held her daughter's hand and continued with their walk. Leaving the weird man in the middle of the hallway.
There was really no particular reason for her glancing back at the man. But when she did, he was still there, staring at the floor.
"Ten months he said," Usami thought with a humorless smile.
How long was ten months? Or maybe it should be like 'how short'? As the impact of that news finally started hitting home, Usami's lips that was smiling turned into a thin line. There was no better way to make one feel trapped other than saying that his days was already numbered.
A crease slowly crept between his fine brows. The calm breathing in his chest became shorter and raspier. As if the air he was breathing became thick. Thick with an emotion he of all people knew very well. Seething anger.
He looked around him. Faces he didn't know, unfamiliar rooms with their doors closed. Voices, rustles of clothes, sounds of shoes against the floor, they all flooded the man. Like everything went fast forward while his own clock stopped.
"What a joke," he breathed, the envelope with his name crumpling within his grasp.
He never did anything in his life aside from writing. He lived to write and never had he thought about old age and death. He didn't care about that thing. His life wasn't fruitful aside from his profession. He was unsociable. He was a loner. He was as good as dead.
But that didn't mean he wanted to die.
The world and his stopped clock once more got synchronized when a strong force hit the man from behind. He had to take a step forward to maintain balance as he watched the envelope he was holding fly to the floor silently.
"So-sorry! Sorry Sir!" the voice, young and somewhat worried croaked.
Usami could hear the clumsy rustle of papers from behind him. The slight screech the shoes of whoever it was on the floor picking up stuff made an annoying sound. And as Usami stood there, looking at his envelope, something snapped in him.
"Tsk," Usami swung around and there was a chocolate brown-haired male still in his Gakuran picking up his books and an envelope that looked the same as his.
"Bullshit! Are you blind?!" Usami snarled. His lavender eyes, reddening.
The boy kneeling on the floor looked up to Usami. Confused, his small mouth opened. The boy was about to say his apologies once more but Usami was in no mood for sorries. For apologies. For comforting words.
"The hallway is freaking spacious to bump into me!" Usami yelled, causing the other people on their way to their own destinations stop and look at them like a show.
Standing straight, the kid still had to look up at the man a good foot taller than him. He looked really apologetic.
"Sorry...I was just -"
"Do you know how much it hurt?!" What am I doing?
He was angry. He needed release. Anything, anyone will do. He just needed someone to blame. Someone to blame about him having cancer, that it was terminal, and that he had ten months to live. Fuck second opinion.
The boy's apologetic face slowly turned into an annoyed one. "I already said sorry didn't I?"
"Fucking piece of shit..." Usami growled.
Stepping closer at Usami, taking the man head on, he raised his face stating he wasn't afraid. "I am sorry okay? But your tone really is pissing me off!"
The brunette walked and passed Usami, picked up Usami's envelope and turned at the fuming man who he thought was unreasonably angry for just being pushed a little.
"How petty..." the kid mumbled before pushing the envelope to the man's chest. "Did you know that two hours of being angry could kill you?"
Hurriedly, the boy walked away. He left Usami standing there alone once more. His brows in a frown, the boy clutched his bag, trying to keep his school things in place after its zipper snapped. His books which his older brother named neatly like he was a grade schooler were sticking out. And his name 'Takahashi Misaki' was plainly visible.
"What a weird guy. That is nothing to be angry about..." he told himself. "It's not like he's gonna die from that! Pisses me off!"
Already a good distance from the 'weird' silverhaired man he just met, Misaki stopped on his tracks. He didn't know but his head just turned on its own to look behind him. And though he was already far, nurses walking, blocking his view once in a while, he still could see the man in the middle of where he had left him.
Misaki sighed. His own anger receeding. For the way that rich looking man raised his hand to his forehead looked sad. From that angle, it was as if the man was carrying the whole world on his shoulders. It pierced Misaki.
"Hai, I'm on my way to a group study Nii-chan..."
With one arm taking all his stuff like one would carry a baby, his other hand was busy holding his phone in place as he conversed with his brother. He had just finished his consultation with a doctor and was already running late for his group study.
"Ha?" Misaki exclaimed before giggling. His brother was being overly worried for nothing.
The boy made a left turn. As far as he could remember, there should be a comfort room in that wing. All the other male rest rooms, if not being cleaned, was full so he had to search for one. Or else he would need to worry about his kidneys next.
"Nii-chan, calm down okay?" Misaki mumbled, his eyes finally seeing the sign for 'male'. "The doctor said it's just a strained muscle. I slept the wrong way and some muscle and veins sort of got twisted...something like that...'
"Misaki, you have your results right? Read it!"
It was quite a hard work for Misaki to hold his stuff, his phone and open the door to the men's room. After some more trying he finally got to hold the knob properly. Only to feel that it wouldn't budge at his turning.
"Eh...it's locked?" he said aloud.
"Ah, nothing...just the door wouldn't-" Misaki kept on twisting. It made a strange sound like something was lose in it.
"Like I said, Misaki...read the results so you'd understand."
"Eh? What for? The doctor said it'll go away after a couple of days. I wouldn't undertand what's in it even if I tried to read it anyway..." he replied, still busy twisting the knob. "I got some painkillers and swelling medicine from him so it's all good!"
"Aww, crap..." Misaki looked to his left and right and saw no one. In his hand was the knob, that for some reason he managed to break. "It wasn't my fault...it's broken from the beginning..." he mumbled defensively before talking back to his brother.
"Talk to you later Nii-chan!"
After putting his phone back into his pocket, the teen sneakily pushed the door open and went in. He didn't know what to do and how to fix it but he had to worry about his bladder too. So off he placed the fallen knob on top of the sink and went into one of the cubicles.
He hung his bag on the hook, tried to stuff his things and stop them from falling off. Unbuckling his belt, he paused for a moment. Was it just him? Or he heard something?
"It's nothing..." the boy encouraged himself. It was best not to entertain freaky thoughts in a hospital in some deserted wing. Or else he might end up running out with his pants still on his knees.
After doing his business, Misaki went out and headed for the sink. His messy stuff on the counter, he turned on the faucet to wash his hands. The lights was too bright, it hurt his eyes for some reason. But other than that, he was at peace. His general check-up turned out to be nothing but a stiff neck, his bladder was finally free and happy. All he needed to worry about now was how to fly into his group study.
He blinked at his reflection in the mirror. He started brushing his fingers through his hair when he lowered his hand do the side of his neck, feeling a very slight lump.
"I thought you were serious..." Misaki smiled as he started fixing the collar of his shirt.
He started feeling pain on the side just under his left ear a week ago. It was discomforting sometimes to the point of not being able to sleep. He had not thought anything else aside from the results the doctor had told him. Besides, it would be natural to get pains in the neck if one slept on the floor or rested his head on his study table.
And then Misaki froze.
There it was again. A sound of something painfully being muffled.
From the mirror, the teen looked behind him. The four closed cubicles posed no signs of being occupied. But he kep on hearing that faint rustlings.
Slowly, he grabbed his bag. About ready to fly out of the men's room, a paper came sliding off the floor from under the door of the farthest cubicle.
"Hello?" he called.
"What am I gonna do? Am I being haunted?"
Swallowing hard, Misaki walked on tiptoes. He reached for the paper and then caught a glimpse of a pair of polished black shoes behind the door.
"Oh my god..."
He stopped breathing. Sweat started forming on his forehead. And as if he was afraid to get burned, with his index finger he pushed the door open.
It made a slow, creaking sound.
He was ready bracing himself into seeing a ghost. But Misaki saw a man instead whose face was buried on his palms and whose shoulders were shaking terribly.
"Get out," the voice ordered. It was barely a whisper, but the anger and despair he heard from it was very, deeply clear.
"It's you who didn't lock the cubicle..."
Misaki looked to the door where he entered and thought that maybe this man was the one who locked it from the inside. He drew a deep breath and looked once more at the hidden face of the man who was sitting on the lid of the closed toilet. An open envelope sitting on his lap where his elbows were resting.
"Wait a minute...this..." recognition washed over him. "...isn't he the rude guy earlier?" Misaki reminisced the little anger he developed for the guy but then shoved them aside as he remembered the sad stance the man had.
For a man to lock himself in the men's room, what problem could he be having? Misaki thought that only girls, broken hearted at that hid themselves in such places to cry. He didn't know grown men also do that.
"Uhm...you...dropped this..." he glanced at the paper and then back at the man. His eyes catching 'cancer' from the many random things in it. And somehow, Misaki understood.
"Throw it away."
Usami Akihiko didn't dare look up. He wouldn't even move a muscle on where he was sitting. He was just afraid that his eyes would be deeply clouded and strangle to death the very first person who saw him in such a pathetic state. His fingers were greatly shaking and his breathing was becoming heavier. If whoever that was still lingered before him, he might kill him. At least he'd have the pleasure of taking someone's life before some ridiculous twist of fate took his.
The sound of paper played into both males' ears as Misaki just stood a few feet away from the cubicle, and as Usami sat there.
Misaki didn't know what to do. He could just leave the paper on the sink, leave and then he'd be free from the trouble. But he wasn't raised like that. His brother taught him to be a concerned person to even strangers. He could forget human concerns and all that but he was sure his conscience wouldn't.
"Uhm...isn't this important...?"
Gathering his guts, Misaki masked the nervousness in him and talked in a lively manner. Though his voice was a little shaky. "Do you need anything? Water? Uhm...coffee? You know there is a..."
The boy just blabbered on and on and on. And while he did so, Usami just sunk deeper into his annoyance and hatred. He hadn't even told the stranger, that he had some serious illness and he was already being pitied?
Pity. The thing he would never accept from anyone.
"I could get them for you-"
A strong, huge hand suddenly reached towards Misaki. From the surprise, the teen just watched the hand grab his collar. He could also hear the envelope from the man's lap fall on the floor.
"I HAVE FUCKING CANCER! SO WHAT?! I DON'T NEED ANYTHING FROM YOU!"
He was left with nothing to do but stare up at the pair of angry eyes. And the intensity from those lavender hues was so strong Misaki couldn't speak. He gulped when his collar started choking him.
Usami looked into the boy's eyes. Eerily green, the kind of green he could see during the Spring season. The season he liked. And he would never live to see that season again.
"Go now kid...or I will really kill you."
Gently, the grasp of the man's hand loosened. And Misaki could finally breathe properly. They just stood there, the silence deafening. The boy looked down at the scattered papers around their feet. The word cancer as if highlighted in his eyes.
Misaki slowly lifted his gaze from the floor, to the man's expensive shoes. His eyes traced the hem of the man's trousers until he reached the last button of the man's white longsleeved polo.
Cancer. The only thing Misaki knew about it was that it was scary and deadly. He might've been ignorant with such things, but there was one thing he knew very well when things were connected to death. And that was sadness.
The boy looked to his left, towards the mirror. And there he saw strange aura from the man's reflection. Whatever it was, he was trying to bottle it up inside. And Misaki had read all these from just the guy's trembling.
"He's going to die?"
Deep inside Misaki, he started being afraid. What would he do if he was in the man's shoes? Would hiding be enough for him? What of his dreams? He was even studying for the university exams. What would he tell his brother if the general check-up he just had said he was dying? What would he do?
He just started thinking about how wretched he was going to be and when he looked at the silverhaired man, he felt sad for him and for himself.
Misaki saw his own eyes glisten. He raised his arm and hurriedly wiped them with his sleeves. But it seemed like it only triggered something in him. And just like that, tears wouldn't stop from his eyes.
Embarrased, the brunette continued rubbing on his eyes, hicupping and sniffing loudly.
"What are you crying about? I didn't hit you, did I?"
After a long silence, a small voice replied.
"Because it's sad..." Misaki replied, his face hidden by his sleeves. "It's so sad it hurts..."
Usami glanced at the brunette who was rubbing his eyes frantically. His own heaving chest finally calming down, the man thought the kid was weird. Sad? About what? For him? Why?
With his lavender eyes, he looked at his face in the mirror. What he saw wasn't him. It had the same face as him but he knew it wasn't him.
His sharp eyes had reddened from trying so hard not to shed a tear. His hair was messy. His polo had creases all over. And as he looked at himself, with the crying boy beside him, his thin lips opened slightly. But he closed them again and looked down on the floor, realizing something.
He watched warm tears from his eyes fall on the white floor, leaving a faint spot of gray as if the tiles were absorbing it.
That was it. That was really it. Despite his lone wolf life, he didn't want to be told he had ten months. That he would start deteriorating like how candles would. After removing all the anger and the facade of being a prideful man, it would all come down to one thing.
"Sad..." Usami whispered. "I guess that's what it is...I wasn't angry."
"Calling Doctor Kusama, ER 3. Doctor Kusama..." the voice of a woman from the intercom echoed throughout that hospital wing. It broke the silence around them and sort of reminded them that they were still in the world of the living.
Usami while his head was still bowed like the brunette's, his hand reached out to the brown head and patted it lightly twice.
Misaki looked at the mirror and saw the man's lips say a silent word. But Misaki could read it.
Misaki for a moment just watched how strangely beautiful those glistening on the man's face was. Silverhair blocked his eyes, but his cheeks, his lips, they were something Misaki didn't expect to be seeing. Like some sort of a mourning angel and he realized that he had been gaping.
As he slowly removed his gaze from this cancer patient, Misaki looked down once more and at his feet was one of the papers scattered around them.
"He still appeared to be young...why does one have to go through that?"
The word 'cancer' kept on flashing in his head like red lights. And he had this very strong urge to cry for the man he didn't even know. He also had the urge to cry for himself for some reason he couldn't place.
That moment, when he was there trying to make someone feel that they weren't alone, Misaki's body might have known already that those papers, those results, those numbered days...was his.
chapter end notes:
thank you for giving this story a try. the story came to me while listening to "変わらないもの" or Kawaranai mono or Unchanging Things sung by Hanako Oku. So I guess...this song is this story's theme song. hehehe
i also made a cover art for this story! please check it out at yaoinessfics-shuusetsu *dot* tumb L R *dot* .com!
arigatou and please tell me your thoughts!^^iii